Sometimes things we aren’t familiar with can seem strange and intimidating, but with a little knowledge and practice, they can truly change our lives. Take tai chi. This age-old exercise is ideal for seniors, but it incorporates movements and ideas that many of us find unusual. A mind-body practice, it’s sometimes described as “meditation in motion.” Although its gentle movements and breathing techniques can strengthen people of all ages, tai chi is especially advantageous for older adults. Scroll down to explore the benefits of tai chi for seniors.
Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors
You might assume that an exercise described as relaxing and low-impact wouldn’t be able to affect your muscle strength much, but you would be wrong! Tai chi only requires about 20 minutes per day, and you’ll be well-rewarded with improved strength in addition to power, stamina, aerobic capacity, and agility. As you complete the slow series of martial arts movements, your muscles will remain relaxed. The movements are typically circular and never forced, and the joints are neither fully extended nor fully bent. Because of these facets of the exercise, it’s often quite surprising to people that tai chi can improve both upper and lower body strength as well as the core and abdominal muscles.
Flexibility & Balance
One of the most vital benefits of tai chi for seniors is that it can improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling. It enhances proprioception, or the ability to sense the positioning of the body in space, which naturally declines with age. Tai chi also boosts flexibility, which makes it easier to recover your balance when you stumble. As we’ve already discussed, it also improves muscle strength. Because of all these benefits, tai chi can also reduce the fear of falling, which may actually impact your likelihood of falling.
Tai chi isn’t just a physical exercise; it’s a mental one, too. By incorporating deep breathing techniques, it helps relieve stress and improve overall mood. Not only does this simply feel good, but also it can help improve your breathing efficiency, circulation, and sleep quality. Plus, some studies show that regularly practicing tai chi can lower your blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
Although tai chi won’t leave you breathless and panting, it still offers impressive benefits. In addition to the benefits listed above, tai chi has also been shown to improve one’s ability to perform activities of daily life, like carrying groceries and climbing stairs. Plus, it’s safe, doesn’t require fancy equipment, and can even be performed outdoors!
All that said, remember that it’s important to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Especially if you have any physical limitations or take medications that can make you feel dizzy, it’s important to ask your doctor before you begin practicing tai chi.
In addition, note that there are many different styles of tai chi. Some are more intense, while others are more calming, but we encourage you to start slow and let your body adjust.
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